Many individuals and couples experiencing infertility are able to have biological children through fertility treatments. IVF, or in vitro fertilization, is one of the possible paths to parenthood.
This form of assisted reproductive technology (ART) has helped millions of individuals conceive throughout the past four decades.
If you are considering IVF, here’s an overview of what to expect.
IVF is a type of fertility treatment in which eggs are retrieved from the ovaries, fertilized with sperm outside of the body, and then implanted into the uterus with the potential outcome of a pregnancy. There are three main phases.
During this phase of IVF, a variety of medications are used to stimulate egg growth. These medications are typically administered as nightly injections.
Medication protocol is unique to each individual, with prescriptions and doses based on hormone levels.
This phase typically takes 1-2 weeks, with 5-7 doctor’s appointments for monitoring. Medication protocols are often adjusted after appointments, as hormone levels fluctuate.
After the medications have stimulated egg growth, your doctor will retrieve as many mature eggs as possible from the ovaries.
This is done through a 15-45-minute minimally invasive procedure, performed under sedation to prevent pain.
The retrieved eggs are fertilized with sperm, from a partner or donor, before being transferred to your uterus through another non-invasive procedure.
The fertilization process is monitored over several days to ensure that the eggs have successfully begun to split.
Eggs do not have to be transferred right away, and you can schedule a date that works best for you and your family building goals.
Many individuals who hope to conceive another child through IVF in the future store embryos from this cycle for later use. (The longest documented successful embryo freezing is 24 years, but it can theoretically be done indefinitely.)
In the final phase of IVF, the embryo is transferred to your uterus through another non-invasive procedure.
Many individuals take progesterone or estrogen supplements during this stage to support successful implantation of the embryo.
The process typically lasts about four to six weeks from beginning to end, meaning from the beginning of ovarian stimulation medications to a pregnancy test after the embryo transfer.
While IVF is generally successful, multiple IVF cycles are common.
Those who conceive through the process need an average of 2.7 cycles to become pregnant, and your chances of conceiving increase with several attempts.
There are many factors involved in IVF success, including age, lifestyle factors like smoking and alcohol use, and the underlying cause of your infertility.
There are many reasons to pursue IVF.
Keep in mind that there are many types of fertility issues and IVF is just one of many fertility treatments. The best treatment for you depends on the cause of your or your partner’s infertility.
For individualized treatment recommendations, consult with a fertility specialist about your options.
IVF is necessary to conceive with a donor egg or sperm or when using a surrogate. It can also be used if you have a genetic disease or other health condition that could potentially be passed on to your baby.
Managing the costs of IVF can be one of the more overwhelming parts of the process. Fortunately, there are many ways to ease the financial burden.
Explore potential financial resources at the beginning of your family building journey so that you can anticipate the total cost and plan accordingly.
There are many factors involved in the cost of IVF — and many moving parts involved in treatment — so it may be difficult to accurately predict all expenses. However, you should be able to have a general sense to guide your planning process.
If you have additional questions regarding infertility or IVF, consult your physician or trusted healthcare professional to discuss diagnosis and treatment options.
At Ruth Health, we understand that nobody knows what you need better than you. We provide expert, evidence-based maternal advice so that you can make the best decisions for yourself.
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